Mothering in homelessness

Mothering in homelessness: Coordinating support for mothers crossing child safety and housing support systems

Degree type


Closing date

10 October 2022



Citizenship requirement


About the research project

Homelessness at any life stage is traumatic and increases vulnerability to poor health and mental health and violent victimisation.  Homelessness for pregnant mothers and for mothers who may or may not have custody of their children presents unique stressors.  Not only do mothers need to negotiate the risks of homelessness, they must also negotiate the potential risk of childlessness which stems from the threat that they may not be considered by the State as a suitable parent able to provide adequate care and housing for children in their custody or children with whom they hope to be reunified.

This PhD project opens scope to consider solutions to the complex issues faced by mothers who need to urgently find safe, secure housing in order to mother in ways both they and the State prioritise as safe, appropriate and meaningful.  That access to safe, affordable housing could determine mothers' access to their own children is a long-standing complex social, political, moral and practical conundrum that foregrounds the life-changing impacts of poverty, a lack of affordable housing, and contemporary child removal and family reunification practices.  It also highlights the need for rapid cross-agency collaboration to ensure humane and cost-effective responses to mothers experiencing acute vulnerability.

With scope for cross-disciplinary research, the project will engage the successful candidate in rich theoretical material addressing neoliberal motherhood, maternal surveillance, maternal identity and the lived realities of pregnancy and parenting in poverty, including in contexts of reunification.  This is a place-based project which will also aim to have local impact on the provision of specialist housing support and child protection services in Tasmania.

The overarching emphasis of the project is to draw together new empirical evidence and theoretical analysis to justify and inform policy and practice options which result in Tasmanian mothers and their children being supported to realise their right to remain together.  This is a project which will require astute attention to ethical, culturally safe, and trauma-informed research practice.

This project may have a part-time study option available. Some restrictions may apply. Please discuss your preference with the Supervisor and note your preferred study option when applying.

Primary Supervisor

Meet Dr Catherine Robinson


Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,854 per annum (2022 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.


Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus.

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Applicants with an interest, skill and/or experience in trauma-informed professional or research practice are encouraged to apply.
  • Applicants must provide evidence of current WWVP registration.

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Dr Catherine Robinson to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. Submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application, you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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